If your website isn’t showing up in search results then customers are unlikely to even know you exist. Improving your search engine visibility is a vital step in bringing people to your website and generating sales. If you’re not familiar with how to do this yourself you’ll want to bring in an Search-Engine-Optimisation (SEO) consultant. Here are the important questions to ask when hiring an SEO consultant.
- Ask for a List of their Current and Past Clients
You should avoid anyone who is unwilling (or unable) to provide you with a list of their clients. These give you references that allow you to tell how good the candidate is and lets you know they did the work they claim to have done. These clients may not need to give you specifics but they can at least recommend the person to you and tell you if things were better after they did their job.
- What Will They Do?
You should also avoid SEO consultants that can’t tell you just how they plan to improve your search engine rankings. A good SEO consultant will be able to explain how they improve your search engine ranking and provide you with a realistic estimate on how long it should take to reach your particular SEO campaign goals.
Ensure that their proposal also includes a review of your website to find and neutralise any problems that could be negatively affecting your search engine rankings such as broken links and error pages. Consultants should also be able to provide you with “on page” optimization, which is where the website is made as friendly as possible for search engines. This includes improving the URL and internal linking structure of your website, as well as developing web page titles, headings and tags. You should also ask if they provide “off-page” SEO, which is where awareness for your website is raised on other websites such as through blogs and social media platform.
- Ask if They Adhere to the Webmaster Guidelines of a Search Engine
Your consultant should abide by the webmaster best practices that Google have publicly posted for SEO consultants to follow. These guidelines actually prohibit the 12 most common SEO tricks including generating spam content and including fake hidden text and links. If the consultant doesn’t follow these guidelines then at best your website will be ranked lower and at worst it could disappear from search engine results entirely. Bing and Yahoo have published their own guidelines and it’s vital your consultant follows them.
- Ask if They Can Personally Guarantee Your Website will be Ranked Number One on Google, Bing and Yahoo
Never, ever, ever trust a consultant who claims they can make you the top result on a search engine. It’s impossible to do this but it doesn’t stop some shady SEO consultants from saying that they can. The candidate claiming that they have an insider relationship with a search engine is also another red flag. The only ones who can control a website’s position in the search results is the search engine themselves.
- Ask About their Local Search Results Experience
Last but not least you should ask the consultant about their experience with local search results. Showing up high on the list in these results can be a major boon for smaller businesses and stores looking to spread local awareness and reach nearby customers. When your website is optimised for this “local SEO” then it shows up higher when local people use keywords that are relevant for your business. There are a number of ways to do this and the right consultant will know them all, will tell you them, and will then implement them.
These five questions will help you narrow down the field and bring you one step closer to finding the best Search Engine Optimisation consultant for your needs.